6 Facts what Strength Training does to you
A few weeks ago I was sitting in a presentation of one of the top Olympic Coaches in a particular sport (I prefer not to name the sport) and he stated that strength training doesn’t lead to performance improvements in his sport.
I was shocked out of my skin, and to be honest, to date I am still deeply shocked!
Why was I shocked?
Very simple, strength training is a broad term and the adaptations to strength training are manifold, as they can range from making you stronger to making you endure longer, which are pretty much opposed physical qualities.
For that reason, a generalization of the word strength training makes in my opinion not much sense.
By the end of this article you will know
- The adaptations following different strength training methods
- The benefits of strength training for athlete
- The benefits of strength training for everyday training people
Table of content
- What strength training does to you depends on the strength training method you are choosing
- What strength training does to your muscles
- What strength training does to your tendons
- What strength training does to your bones
- What strength training does to your metabolic system
- What strength training does to your movements
- What strength training does to your confidence
This article will list a few benefits of strength training, that apply to athletes, as well as for the everyday training people.
These benefits are in no particular order.
What strength training does to you depends on the strength training method you are choosing
When most people think about strength training, the general perception is, that strength training is training your muscles and it makes the muscles grow.
Which can be true, if you are choosing a strength training method, that is targeted towards muscular hypertrophy. These training methods set a stimulus for the muscles to grow and will lead over time to more muscle mass.
However, that being said also means that not every strength training method will make the muscles grow. If you are not interested in muscular growth, that can be achieved with different strength training methods.
Just check out the image below, outlining a few strength training methods, that I am using with my athletes to achieve different training goals.
I have taken this image from the article How often should I Back Squat which goes into detail of different adaptations and strength training design.
As you can see only 1 out of 5 strength training methods really leads to muscular hypertrophy.
I have also written at length, how strength training can be used as a means to an end, when the goal is weight control or weight loss, feel free to check out the strength training and weight loss guide.
Let’s move away a bit from the performance side of things and jump into the different benefits of strength training can offer for everyone.
#1 What strength training does to your muscles
As I have just outlined strength training dependent on the strength training method you are choosing, it can
- lead to muscular growth
- strengthen the muscles
- make the muscles endure longer
- strengthen the muscle-tendon complex, which leads to benefit number 2
#2 What strength training does to your tendons
If you look at the architecture of a muscle, the is attached to a tendon and the tendon is attached to a bone. This complex of muscle and tendon plus the attachment on the bone can become stronger through appropriate strength training.
In fact, the higher the intensities in training or in the sport itself, the muscle will stiffen and contract isometrically and the tendon will work elastically to allow high-intensity movements.
#3 What strength training does to your bones
A chronic adaptation to strength training is, that it increases bone mineral density, which means that your bones will become stronger over time.
This is important for all of us, as we humans tend to lose bone mineral density in the ageing process, but it’s also important for sports where there is higher forces and shear forces act on the bones.
When do shear forces act on the bones?
During jumping and landing, cutting and/or changes of direction, and also in sports where athletes have strong physical contact, like running into each other or athletes fall or crash.
For that reason, an increase in bone mineral density can be beneficial for those athletes.
For further details, check out the article Strength training builds more than muscles from Harvard Medical Scholl outlining the benefits of strength training on bone health.
#4 What strength training does to your metabolic system
So far, the benefits have been local to the muscles, tendon and bones.
However, strength training can also improve the muscle metabolism and depend on the form of strength training you are choosing, you can influence which metabolism or energy system you want to influence.
What does that mean?
You have different energy systems, allowing you produce high-intensity efforts over a short period of time to allowing you to produce lower intensity efforts for longer periods of time.
Check out the short explainer video outlining the different energy systems.
A well-designed strength training has the ability to influence and optimize different energy systems is very often overlooked, since strength training is too often associated with simply influencing your muscles.
Check out the article What are the benefits of Strength Training? from Nerd Fitness that explains the influence of strength training on your metabolism well.
#5 What strength training does to your movements
Another often overlooked aspect, and often not understood aspect is that strength training can improve movement efficiency.
What does that mean?
If you think about how a movement works, you will see, that is very simple words, a signal is sent from the brain to the muscle. The muscle reacts and contracts and as a result, a feedback is sent back to the brain.
This is also called a feedback loop, which allows the body over time to learn and optimize movements. The more efficient this feedback loop becomes, the more efficient the movement becomes.
Strength training can influence once the velocity of the signal so that the signal can travel faster, which is important if you are interested in sports where speed and power are important. But it can also influence the efficiency and magnitude of this signal, which means that the right signal sent, the signal is not weak, nor is it too strong and you are using the right amount of force for the given task.
In addition to that, I have also outlined in a previous article, how all sporting movements an athlete does can be dissected into a series of Fundamental movements, check out the image below, which nicely illustrates, that a complex movement like a throw, can be dissected into a Lunging movement, rotational movement and pushing movement.
If you want to become better at these particular movements, you need to train them. Check out the article, that explains the concept of Fundamental Movements in more detail.
#6 What strength training does to your confidence
And last but not least, there is also a psychological aspect to strength training.
Studies have repeatedly shown, that strength training can improve confidence and wellbeing.
If you advance in your strength training journey, you become stronger and you see the results of your strength trainings, you see how it helps you to become better in your sport and you see how it helps you in everyday life, that has a strong influence on your confidence and confidence usually grows.
Studies could show this effect on adults as well as kids, so even kids that engage in an age-appropriate strength training can benefit from this.
And really last, but not least, I have seen numerous real-life examples.
Just check out BMX Supercross rider and double Olympian Twan van Gendt
Concluding What strength training does to you
What strength training does to you, depends mainly on the strength training method you are choosing.
General benefits of strength training include, that it can strengthen, your muscles, tendons and bones.
It allows you to optimize specific energy systems, improves movement efficiency and can raise confidence levels.